Saturday, August 11, 2012

Madre Chocolate 70% Hawaiian Dark Chocolate

1.5oz (43g) bar
Ingredients: Hawaiian cacao beans, organic sugar, o. cocoa butter, Mexican whole vanilla

A few months ago, in response to my review of Madécasse's pink pepper and citrus chocolate, reader Emma asked if I'd ever tried the pink pepper bar made by Madre Chocolate. I'd never heard of the brand, so of course I looked up Madre online, and imagine my surprise when I saw that the young company is based in my hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii! I implored my mother to buy several bars locally and bring them with her when I saw her on the mainland last month, and luckily for me she complied. So here I am with three bars from Madre, and three weeks' worth of reviews. Today's is for the basic 70% Hawaiian Dark Chocolate.

Corporate Info: Madre is basically brand new (circa early 2011), the brainchild of a traveler working on social justice in Central America and a botanist with a focus on food and medicinal plants. There's a lot of passion behind everything written about the company: the “About Us” page of their website, the focus on ecology and direct contact with cacao farmers, the now-funded Kickstarter, and even reviews by fans of their chocolate and their shop in Kailua. The cacao is grown organically, some on the Big Island (in the only U.S. state in which this is possible) and some in Central America, and they make the chocolate bean-to-bar in Hawaii. Madre has already been talked up in Saveur and, at greater length, by food personality Aida Mollenkamp after she visited the founders in Hawaii.

Madre currently produces two lines of chocolate, one inspired by Latin American cacao and flavorings and the other using Hawaiian cacao and flavorings. All three of my bars come from the latter line and are listed as “limited edition” because of the seasonality and availability of some of the ingredients. As you might imagine, this is not cheap chocolate: All bars are 1.5oz (half the size of most common chocolate bars) and range from $6 to $10 each on the website, and as my mother experienced, they may cost slightly more in stores. The bars are sold all over Hawaii, but they look to be spreading quickly to high-end and specialty stores in the U.S. and abroad.

Appearance: Madre's chocolate is immediately striking because of its interesting mold. All three of the bars I have and most though not all of the bars on the website appear to be made in the same mold, in which half of each bar is covered with abstract, convex shapes reminiscent of lava rock walls and the other half is carved with what appear to be ancient Central American figures. I can't find an explanation of the molding choices on the website, but there is a blurb about the company's logo design here. Aside from that, the chocolate is a middle-of-the-road brown, not especially red or grey or shiny, though it is mostly matte. 

[Update 8/12/12: Emma points out that the molds Madre uses are mass produced, and can be purchased here. Thanks, Emma!]

Smell: Strong. Robust, beany, spicy, a little tart, a little roasty, very complex. I expect a lot of flavor here!

Taste: Texture is waxy, chewy, then smooth—the extra cocoa butter might be doing that. Flavor is fruity and surprisingly mild, like creamy banana or coconut, as well as a little tart and a little bitter in the tannic/drying/astringent way.

Conclusion: Madre Chocolate 70% Hawaiian Dark Chocolate is lush and tropical, with added cocoa butter creaminess.


  1. Yay! I'm glad you're getting to experience Madre. Do you enjoy their bars?

    As for the molds, they're actually mass-produced molds that Madre happens to use, and I think they fit very nicely, don't you?

  2. Ah, you'll see if I enjoyed their bars! Thanks so much for clarifying the deal with the molds--even if massed produced, they're lots of fun.